Do you remember when your child was born, how your child quickly wrapped all five fingers around your one? Your child will continue to grasp your hand throughout childhood and youth. You are your child's first and lifelong teacher. And, as a parent and teacher, you will make important decisions for your child. Some of the most important decisions you will make are about your child's education. You want your child's school to meet the same goals of high academic achievement you have set.You may want your child's school to reflect the values of your family and community. In other words, you want to choose a school that is a good fit for your child. In an increasing number of communities in our nation, you now have the ability to do so. When it comes to deciding on a school for your child, the more choices you have, the better, right? Sure, except that having more choices makes the school-choosing process all the more difficult as you struggle to answer so many questions. To help parents avoid common struggles when choosing a school, we checked in with Tony Tagliavia, Student Recruitment and Retention Specialist for Milwaukee Public Schools Isral Debruin, Director of Communications at Schools That Can and Andy Vitrano, School Leadership Coach at Schools That Can. Tony, Isral and Andy have tips that will help make the decision process a little easier. Our goal with this week's Hey it's Danae is to give you great information to share with parents and your networks..... Take it away guys!
See you soon,
When it is time to choose a school for your child, Milwaukee families have more than 275 options across the city. With so many schools to choose from, Milwaukee’s education ecosystem can be a confusing place!
There are neighborhood, specialty, and charter schools in Milwaukee Public Schools. There are independent charter schools. And there are private schools that participate in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. So how do you navigate all these choices to settle on the best program for your child? There is no one right answers for every family, but below are seven keys to help you make this important choice.
Timing. MPS holds its annual Three-Choice Enrollment period in February and is now accepting applications for fall on a first-come, first-served basis. And Charter and Choice schools have no set enrollment period. So no matter which type of school you select, it is never too late to apply to a new school!
Location. Having a school located nearby a parent’s home, work, or relatives can be critical for some families. GreatSchools (http://www.greatschools.org/wisconsin/milwaukee/) allows families to enter an address or ZIP code to see all of the schools – MPS, charter, and Choice – located near them. The MPS website offers a “Find a School” function (http://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/en/Schools/Find-a-School.htm) that searches for MPS schools serving a given grade level close to a certain address.
Programs. These same online tools can help families search for a particular program, like an arts, language immersion, or Montessori specialty school. GreatSchools’ Guided Search tool (http://www.greatschools.org/wisconsin/milwaukee/guided-search/) and MPS’ “Find a School” page (http://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/en/Schools/Find-a-School.htm) will narrow search results to help families find what they are looking for.
Performance. The results of a school are another factor many parents take into account when making a decision about where to send their child. Standardized test scores are one important factor, but so are things like a school’s average student attendance rate, graduation rate, and how often students are suspended or expelled. The State of Wisconsin publishes detailed school report cards (https://apps2.dpi.wi.gov/reportcards/)that use many of these elements to assign each school a rating for public and public charter schools. GreatSchools assigns schools 1-10 scores, though the tool is narrower in scope. The state of Wisconsin’s offers a variety of data on schools through its WISEdash tool (http://wisedash.dpi.wi.gov/Dashboard/portalHome.jsp), though with a less user-friendly interface.
Learn more. Learn more about what a school offers by visiting schools’ individual websites. MPS also maintains helpful information pages for each of its schools. This is where you can find information about things like academic programs, athletics, extracurricular activities, transportation options, and more. You should also feel free to call or visit the school, tell them you’re a prospective family, and speak to the principal.
Visit. A campus visit is an indispensable step in selecting a school. Make an appointment with the principal to tour the building, meet teachers and see classrooms in action. Consider bringing your child with you!
Enroll. There’s still time to find a new school for fall. MPS applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For MPS schools, you can apply at any MPS school building, at MPS Central Services Monday-Friday 8 a.m.to 5 p.m., or online at http://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/en/Schools.htm. To apply to charter and Choice schools, contact schools directly by phone or through their website. Families can also apply to Choice schools through the DPI (http://dpi.wi.gov/sms/choice-programs/student-applications).
Danae Davis | Executive Director
101 W. Pleasant St., Suite 210, Milwaukee, WI 53212